Episode 31: Unraveling The Fitness Industry with Hannah Husband

The fitness industry sells us all sorts of ideas about how we “should” move our bodies and what kinds of exercise is healthy. We’ve learned what our bodies “should” look like. And so much of it is bullshit. Our bodies naturally crave movement, and yet we try to fit that movement into a tiny little box that for so many of us doesn’t feel good.

In This Episode:

I’ve invited Body Liberation Coach Hannah Husband to join us for a conversation about how we can unravel the narratives of the fitness industry and return to moving our bodies in a way that feels good.

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Episode Transcript:

Episode 31: Unraveling The Fitness Industry with Hannah Husband

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

body, people, feel, fat, hannah, ladder, exercise, weight, weight loss, movement, losing, diet, folks, conversation, fitness, studies, stories, standards, relationship, health

SPEAKERS

Hannah Husband, Kelsey Mech

Kelsey Mech  00:05

Welcome to The Unraveled Life Podcast. I’m Kelsey Mech, a registered clinical counselor and creative coach. On this show, we’re committed to unraveling the stories, expectations and beliefs of our capitalist and patriarchal society, and reconnecting to who we were before the world told us who we should be. I’m so excited you’re here. Let’s unravel this together. 

Hello, and welcome back. I am so excited to be sharing this conversation today with you all about how we can unravel the harmful things we’ve learned from the fitness industry and exercise industry. I know that I am someone who has had a very mixed relationship with exercise throughout my life. I have struggled a lot with as I think many if not most of us do. I’ve struggled a lot with finding ways to move my body and to exercise that feel good to me. And I’m not just doing out of obligation to stay fit and get toned in ways that might not even be possible for my body. I know I’ve been really damaged and hurt by the expectations set by the fitness industry and the societal norms around what exercise should or shouldn’t look like, and how our relationships with our bodies should be and the correlation that’s made between weight and health and all of these things. And it’s, it’s been so damaging. 

So I’m really excited for the conversation that I’m sharing with you today with a friend of mine, Hannah Husband. I want to share right off the bat that this conversation is a juicy one. And it might just blow your mind. The way that Hannah shares about movement and exercise has totally flipped things on its head for me, and I love love, love her approach. So if you want to dive deeper with Hannah, she has so many cool offerings coming down the pipe soon, but I also want to let you know that she’s going to be a guest inside Wellspring in the month of May. And so if you’ve been thinking about joining Wellspring, my membership community, where we have a really real conversations about all of the things that are important, like the kinds of conversations we have here on the podcast, and hold space for what is real in a really nourishing beautiful community. As we move through the seasons together and try and slow down and step outside of hustle culture and align the ways we live with a more cyclical and seasonal approach. If any of that feels like resonant to you and like something you want to call in more of and you want to do that in a community of women, then we’d love to have you there. And you’ll also get to do an awesome workshop with Hannah in May. 

So without further ado, I let me introduce you to our fabulous guest Hannah husband. Hannah is a body liberation coach committed to supporting folks who feel left out of or harmed by mainstream fitness offerings. She loves to work with folks who believe they aren’t able bodied enough to participate in even the beginner offerings out there. Folks who are trans or non binary and desire a non gendered approach to movement, cis men who are over bro fitness culture and women who have had it with patriarchal beauty standards. Hannah supports her clients to trust themselves in their bodies and discover a plethora of ways to move that feels supportive to their well being. She is deeply passionate about reclaiming movement as a way to help regulate our nervous systems, put self love into practice and cultivate an internal feeling of power and strength. She is deeply committed to unraveling the stories and societal expectations of what exercise should be and restoring our access to movement in all the ways that can truly nourish the body and soul. I hope you love this conversation with Hannah as much as I do.

Hi, Hannah.

Hannah Husband  04:48

Hello Kelsey. Thank you so much for being here. I am really looking forward to this conversation. Do you know we’ll meet you it’s gonna be juicy, and as we discussed, probably full of swear words, so yeah, yeah, heads up for that.

Kelsey Mech  05:09

Do you mind by just starting us off by sharing a little bit, whatever sort of feels in line for you in this moment with the audience about who you are, the work you do in the world, what you’re passionate about?

Hannah Husband  05:23

Sure. So yeah, it’s funny because like, I do still feel like I’m in a moment of transition in terms of like reinventing how I show up to work in the world. But in this moment, I am, I’m trying on the mantle of disguise, disguising, of describing myself as a body liberation coach. I came from the I came from theater originally and was an actor and then got into personal training as like a side gig. And this real through line for me, and what still feels true to want to engage with is that I really enjoy helping people have like a friendship with their bodies, which is no small thing in this day and age, and to kind of reclaim movement as something that is supportive and holistic within their life.

Kelsey Mech  06:27

Amazing, so important. Oh my gosh, I like I just in love with everything you do and everything you’ve been talking about. I’m so excited. You’re here. For folks who might not be familiar with that language of body liberation, do you mind putting a few more words to what you mean by that?

Hannah Husband  06:44

Sure, sure. So I gratefully adopt and and utilize that language body liberation from the like, what I would now call more accurately, like the fat positive or fat acceptance movement, which started as the body positivity movement, but body positivity got kind of CO opted, and now like the the version that’s trending is different than the origin of the movement. But body liberation has I feel into it, is this idea that like, we should feel free in our bodies, we should feel like anywhere from neutral to love towards our bodies, rather than like this desire to control or change or fix our bodies. And that, like, for me, a big cornerstone of of body liberation work is that all bodies are deserving of these sensations and relationships, right that like, I think one of the word again to this, but one of the problems with our culture right now and with the fitness industry, specifically, is that there’s this idea that there’s like good bodies, and like not as good as the body is right that there’s a ladder of bodily hierarchy, which is something I borrowed from Sonia, Renee Taylor, who wrote this incredible book called The body is not an apology. So I’m so good. It’s like, I reread it every year. Basically, it’s just a pilgrimage that I go on. But she talks about this idea of like the ladder of bodily hierarchy, where like, if we are placing ourselves on that ladder and thinking, Okay, some body types, or body attributes are better, and some are worse. And I’m trying to move up the ladder by like, working out, right, or like doing yoga or whatever the thing is, that actually like the ladder is the problem, like the ladder is the system of oppression itself. And so for me, this idea of body liberation is like, let’s dismantle the ladder, like, let’s stop believing that some bodies are better than others, or that we, I don’t know, I’m losing my train of thought a little bit, but basically that like, let’s just opt out of this assumption that there needs to be a ladder and that we need to have our place on it and like jockey for a better place.

Kelsey Mech  09:30

Yes, yes, yes. Yes. And I love how you losing your train of thought is still the most eloquent thing. Okay, but digging into that and digging into the piece, specifically that you brought up one of the systems that perpetuates that oppressive ladder, the fitness industry, can you speak a little bit to I mean, either through your own sort of experience in that realm or broadly or both? Like, what are sort of the stories and the stigmas and the misconceptions that we need to unravel? About the fitness industry about exercise and movement, in particular, when it when it comes to all this?

Hannah Husband  10:15

Yeah, so I think the biggest one, and of course, it depends like where someone’s coming from, right, like, so everyone who’s listening is going to be in a different place on their journey in terms of their relationship to their body and the concept of exercise. But I think the biggest biggest misconception about like, quote, unquote, exercise, which I don’t even love that term anymore, but like, fitness, etc, working out, is that the main and potentially only reason to do it is to lose weight. Or to change our bodies aesthetically, but like, I would say, the, there’s still a lot of folks that I encounter who think that the only reason to exercise is to make sure your body is essentially small enough, or not having too much fat on it. To the point where like, I met someone at a picnic recently, I was just thinking about this story. It was a birthday picnic for a friend who’s like, you know, very barrier, like liberal, radical group of people. And I’m chatting with this person that I met, and she’s like, Oh, you’re a personal trainer. She’s like, you know, I’ve always been really lucky. I’ve never needed to exercise. And I was just like, right like that, to me kind of encapsulates the biggest, like myth or like, fallacy of fitness is that like, some people need to do it, and some people don’t. And let me also be clear, like, I believe that health, like the pursuit of health and wellness is like, optional. I don’t think it’s a moral imperative. And I do think that health is a really a morphus concept that’s hard to define, and not an all within our control entirely. So that’s another like fallacy of the fitness industry is like, if you just, you know, work hard enough, you can achieve optimal health. And it’s like, no, some people have genetic issues that are always going to make their bodies function differently than what we think of as, quote, unquote, optimal health. So there’s a lot of stickiness there. But what I know to be true, and this is, like, rooted in science, like peer reviewed studies, right, is that our bodies have evolved to maintain their physical health through movement. And so, you know, this, I’ve never needed to exercise them, like, oh, gosh, like, That’s lucky that you felt good and been able to move and do everything you want to do. And, like, our shoulder gets to continue being a healthy and happy shoulder via movement. So like, at a certain point, if we’re not moving enough, and in nutritious ways, or if we’re moving too much in non nutritious ways, there’s gonna be a breakdown of at like the tissue level of function at that joint. And so, to get back to like, what, what are the main misconceptions about fitness, it’s like, we get into this pigeonhole of thinking that it’s just about losing weight, or like, controlling our health through losing weight, and the reality is like, actually, movement is incredibly health promoting. It can help you be more flexible, it can maintain the physical health of your joints, it can help you maintain neurological connectivity between your brain and your body. It can help regulate your mood and your nervous system. It can help reduce stress, you can literally make your muscles and bones and ligaments are stronger and denser and able to withstand more and variable forces, like all of those things are possible through exercise and have been like rigorously studied with actual science. Weight loss. On the other hand, like the data we do have, if you look under the hood, it is appalling, like most studies that claim to prove a method works for losing weight. You see a 40 to 60% dropout rate of participants partway through. Now, if we’re looking at like a study for a drug trial, right, like any pharmaceutical, if you lose 40 to 60% of your participants, you have to throw that study out. It does not pass peer review standards, but for some reason Then with like weight loss interventions, and this could be diets, exercise programs, weight loss, drugs, surgeries, like any of these interventions that supposedly are being studied to prove that they work for long term weight loss. You see these dropout rates and they publish them anyway. Wow. So just that alone is like something I wish everybody knew. You know, like,

Kelsey Mech  15:24

yeah, just to have it. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize it was theirs.

Hannah Husband  15:29

Yeah, yeah, there’s an that’s like one factor. There’s, there are many other factors of the way that quote unquote research for weight loss is not being held to the same peer review standards that other studies are being held to. And Regan Chasteen Do you know her work? I don’t. She’s an amazing fat activist who’s like very active on Instagram, at Reagan, Chasteen. And I learned a lot of this stuff from her because she’s a researcher, who was also like an exercise enthusiast slash fat person who was like, I’m going to figure out the one diet that actually works, I’m going to go to the peer reviewed research, I’m going to cut through all the bullshit, and just go right to the source. And as she started going through the actual studies, that all of these like, various methods are supposedly hanging their hat on, she realized that, like, none of these studies pass muster, and that we’re essentially just being lied to that weight loss is like scientifically possible.

Kelsey Mech  16:32

Yeah. Yeah. Mic drop. Yeah. And this whole idea that like weight, the equivalency between weight and health.

Hannah Husband  16:48

Yeah, yeah. And that’s another one, too. Yeah. Yeah, that’s another one where I’ve learned so much from Reagan, she does like, she actually does monthly workshops that are freaking awesome. They’re like 20 bucks. And she’ll go through, like, you know, myth myth busting about the relationship between weight and health. And like, they’re wildly entertaining, because she’s like, a comedian. But also, they’re well researched, because she’s a researcher. So you get both sort of like, the fun entertainment side and the like, if you really want the data, here it is, we’re going to get through these slides and like, look at these actual statistics. So yeah, definitely recommend her work. If you’re hearing this and being like, I need to know more.

Kelsey Mech  17:31

Yeah, I will make sure to link her stuff in the show notes as Yeah,

Hannah Husband  17:35

yeah. Because I think that is actually like, if we’re talking about like, what is the biggest misconception, the biggest misconception, actually, is that weight and health are causally related. That like, being heavier, weight is bad. And being lighter weight is good Period, end of story. Like that is a notion that is so woven into the fabric of our society and culture right now. And like, we don’t actually have good quality scientific data to prove a causal relationship. We have data that shows a core relative relationship, like, but that’s a whole that’s probably another podcast.

Kelsey Mech  18:20

Yeah, no, but I think it’s important to at least name that. Yes. Yes. To right. Yeah. Cuz I lean on that a lot as your evidence. Based on this, yeah. Right. Exactly. And like, really, when you look at the details in the science, and the real science, that the period of science, it’s right, necessarily the case,

Hannah Husband  18:40

the second way that we get started. Yeah, I’m

Kelsey Mech  18:45

so I’m, as you were saying all this, I was just like writing down a million more about this forever, but I’m really curious to hear it because you use the language to describe yourself as a personal trainer, and I’m so curious to like, understand, or hear a little bit more about your own relationship to movement and fitness and how you see that in your own life or in the work that you do now with your clients. What does that look like? What’s your what’s your reframe on all of this?

Hannah Husband  19:14

Who I mean, it’s ever evolving. And I’m definitely as I said, in a period of like evolution and transformation right now. My friend Kate, and I keep saying we’re in the chrysalis, we have become primordial ooze. But some things are solidifying out of the EU so I can I can share those. So, you know, I think like most like many fitness and wellness professionals, I got into working out because I thought my body wasn’t good enough and I needed to make it better. Right, I was on that ladder of bodily hierarchy, like not even realizing one could opt out of it. And a lot of that, for me was like, I was like a teenager in the night. 90s, early 90s And like that was the era of like, Calista Flockhart and like, you know, supermodels, Kate Moss, right, like the so there was this very, very, very thin trend of what was beautiful. And then for me wanting to be an actress, I felt like the only way I could be taken seriously within my profession was if I got my body close enough to that standard. And like, I mean, I know no one listening can see me right now. But like, I’m more of like a Viking warrior body type, like I naturally have, like, visible muscle. Like, even before I worked out, people be like, oh my god your arms, I’d be like, what, like I just, you know, that’s my genetic profile. And I’m a little more on the, like, curvy side, right, like, so I was nowhere near the people I was seeing on TV, they felt very, very far away from me. And so like most well intentioned, and uneducated young women trying to be actresses, I tried the quote unquote dieting thing, and hated it, and like, couldn’t do it. And so I was like, Okay, maybe I’ll try exercise. And for me, like, it’s so funny, I comb through it now. And I’m like, oh, right, like, actually, what I’ve always loved about moving my body is that it just turns off the asshole in my brain for like, a few hours to a day. Like, if I have a good, challenging workout, the part of my brain that’s mean to me is quieter, if not silent for like that hour or, and then more often. And so when I was, you know, first getting into it in my early 20s, I made sort of the false connection between the quietness in my brain, have that self critical voice that’s like, just always monologuing, right. And the fact that my body was changing in the direction that it was, quote, unquote, supposed to write like exercise, for me, at first, did change my body more towards the beauty standard of the time. I never got there, because none of us do, guess what the goalposts just keep moving. Um, but I got closer. And so I was like, oh, it’s working. And that’s why my brain is quieter, and like, now,

Kelsey Mech  22:38

yeah. Like, now,

Hannah Husband  22:41

my body is not changing in the ways that it’s quote unquote, supposed to. But I do work out regularly and like lift weights, and my brain is still quiet after I do it. And I was just like, oh, shit, like, it’s not actually about the aesthetic changes, and conforming and feeling a little closer to the standard, that helps me be less mean to myself, it’s actually like, the physical exertion, the feeling of being like powerful, the feeling of just like being embodied in my physical body in a way that is pleasurable, like, that is the magical combo that quiets that, like really mean self critical voice. And so that’s why I keep coming back to movement personally, amongst other things, but I think that’s really the cornerstone for me.

Kelsey Mech  23:35

Hmm, that’s so interesting. I really appreciate you sharing that and like, discerning between those two linked experiences of like, connecting the quieting of the asshole voices to an aesthetic change and connecting it to just like the act of physically the process of physically moving. Yeah. Yeah, cuz I think I can totally relate to that experience that for so long. I was like, Oh, I feel good, because I look better. Right. And only recently have I been able to tentatively step off the ladder a little bit. You know, bets are off. I will probably climb back on it. Boy, that’s yeah, this journey. But it’s very interesting now to be like, Oh, I move in it. It just feels good. And I look the same. Yeah, interesting.

Hannah Husband  24:19

Yeah, right. Well, I’m like, as I’m getting into my elder years, like, I’m 38 now so like, the other thing I’ve realized is if I don’t move enough, and of course enough is relative for each individual, but like for me, I’ve now found like, there’s an enough point where if I fall below that my body hurts like my joints start to feel creaky my back kind of cup talks to me in a not fun way. Like, I just feel like everything feels harder moving around, and I literally have less joy in my day to day whereas if I move enough, I like have a spring in my step and can enjoy for walks and like don’t feel achy. And so that’s another piece for me, that’s, you know, new because when you’re in your 20s, that should just doesn’t happen. For most of us. That’s another piece that sort of shapes my relationship to movement at this point. It’s like, oh, this is a way to tend to myself so that I feel good and well. And energized, you know? Mm hmm. Yeah. And I think that that’s another place, right? Like, oh, man. So I just had, like, a first session with a new client, new returning client. And they were, you know, they filled out my intake form. And I was like, you know, what’s important to you in terms of like, physical capacities and qualities that you want to bring in. And they were like, you know, I want to be more flexible, I want to have more stamina so that I can like, feel good walking up the stairs, and be able to go on hikes with my friend, and I want to feel stronger, because I just know that I always feel more grounded when I feel strong. And I have these other specific, you know, activities that are gonna require this blah, and I want to lose 50 pounds. And I was like, oh, and so I, I just was really like, kind and firm and was like, hey, so a question I would love for you to ponder as we begin our work is, if we get you everything on your qualities list, if you’re more flexible, if you feel more fluid, if you’re not huffing, and puffing going up the stairs, if you’re strong, and that’s like measurable through what you’re lifting. But nothing changes on the scale and or your size doesn’t change. How will you feel about that? Because I think again, like we tend to go, Oh, when I was thinner, smaller, lighter, I felt this list of physical attribute qualities. And so then we assume that in order to feel those qualities, again, we have to also be smaller, lighter, thinner. And, again, going back to just the science, that shit is not true. Like we can be strong, we can be flexible. We can have incredible stamina at literally any size.

Kelsey Mech  27:31

Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that’s such a good question. To ask that. ourselves, like all of us, because I think I mean, even even me, even myself, although this is something I’ve been doing a lot of work around when I heard you ask that. I feel like my gut reaction was almost this like little niggling like, no, like, it wouldn’t be enough. You know, and I hate how internalized that voice is. I mean, for myself, obviously not for this particular client you’re working with. Yeah, I’m just like, if someone asked me that, if that was me in that position. Even though I’m not like actively working on losing weight, and I’m really in a relatively healthy place in my relationship with movement right now. Yeah, I still have that little fucking voice. It’s so pervasive in our capitalist, patriarchal ableist. Yeah. Society and wellness industry, right. Yeah, well, and that’s

Hannah Husband  28:29

the other thing that is practical and real, like this world is not made for larger bodied people from like, airplane seats to just like chairs that have arms that are too narrow for some people’s hips to like, frickin MRI machines that aren’t built to accommodate larger bodies. Actually, that’s another Reagan anecdote. She had to have an MRI and she was telling the story about it. And she like call the confirmed like, do you have the one that is this size that will fit me? They said, yes, she showed up to the appointment. They didn’t have it. And she was like, did you just hope that no fat people would come to this clinic? Like, you know that fat people exist, right? Like, do we deserve medical care? Or are you just hoping that we die?

Kelsey Mech  29:23

Yeah, it’s appalling. It’s appalling. But it’s

Hannah Husband  29:26

like the burden should be on the facilities, makers and setter uppers, not on the individual to like fit into, you know, the hospital gowns and the airplane seats.

Kelsey Mech  29:45

Yeah, and I actually knew saying that I want to pivot slightly to ask about language because you you mentioned this before you were talking a little bit about the language of the body positivity movement, and how that sort of what’s trending in that world now is very different from the original intentions of that. And as you’re using the word fat, I know a lot of people I have these conversations about, think of that word is like very pejorative and negative. And so I’m curious if you can just speak a little bit to how language is being used and reclaimed. And like, in either the bottom body positivity or fat positivity movement, like, what’s going on with all of that? How do we speak about this stuff in a way that’s really supportive and inclusive? Because I think a lot of people don’t know, including myself.

Hannah Husband  30:35

Yeah. Great. No, no. It’s a great question. And it is, I’m just trying to find the entry point. So for me as a straight sized person, meaning like, I don’t have to buy plus sized clothes, I can shop at most stores. I tend to defer to how other people describe themselves. And like, for example, Reagan, the activist that I’ve been talking about a lot. She says, I do describe myself as fat because it’s my way of telling the bullies, they can’t have my lunch money anymore. Yeah. And I’m, I follow a number of activists, and folks who have sort of like become radicalized about their fatness, which is a phrase that I borrowed from somebody and I can’t remember who, who, who do use that term to describe themselves and who are actively trying to say like, Hey, can we use fat, like the word tall, like a neutral descriptor that just like, differentiates body size or body composition? And this has been a learning curve for me, like coming up in the personal training world. And again, like 90s 2000s fat was like a bad word. Yeah. And so I would, you know, I used to, like, if my clients describe themselves as that, I’d be like, Oh, no, no, no, like, don’t say that, you know, like, right? Yes. Right. Like,

Kelsey Mech  32:11

yeah, there’s a real.

Hannah Husband  32:14

But like, what I’ve come to receive from some of the folks I’ve been learning from is like, if we keep pretending that fat is a bad thing, and a bad word, period, end of story, we are erasing any positive association that could be had with that word. And we’re erasing a lot of people. On the other side of the coin, I know some folks who are like, have the same size of someone who would willingly describe them as fat who don’t feel like they want to describe themselves that way. And who have been so harmed by that word in particular, that they really want to distance themselves from it. And so, you know, some folks like to say larger bodied people of size. Some people just prefer not to be like described as, like, the leading thing being their size. But like, for me, I like the height comparison is a helpful one, right? Like, in our society, we clearly like, again, if we’re talking beauty standards, we like a tall man. But we don’t like tell short men that they should like, do extreme diets to try to become tall. Yeah, we don’t tell short men that they should have life endangering surgeries so that they might have a chance of becoming tall. But we do do that with fat people or larger bodied folks, or folks who are carrying more fat on their bodies. However, we want to describe that population. So you know, it’s like,

Kelsey Mech  33:46

such a good analogy. Yeah,

Hannah Husband  33:48

yeah, that one helps me a lot when I’m like, Is this okay? Can I say this? And I’m like, why would describe someone as tall if I was just trying to be like, accurate and be like, you know, the tall guy with the afro standing in the corner, right? Or like, the, you know, short person with glasses wearing a blazer like, again, we want to be careful not to assume folks gender just by looking at them. But yeah, I think I think there is thinking about it, I think it’s important to actually like, take away the power, the negative power and sort of insulting nature of the word fat. And like, one of my coaches honestly encouraged that for me, she was like, you can say the word fat, I feel you dancing around it, and like, it’s just a descriptor. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It just is. And so I’ve been really trying to like re program myself into that language and actually, like, this conversation, I’m like, Oh, I guess I’ve kind of done that because here you are asking me about it. And here I am not thinking about it. So

Kelsey Mech  35:01

possible, folks, it’s possible. And literally that

Hannah Husband  35:04

conversation that I just referenced with my coach was like, two years ago, it was like right before the pandemic started, basically.

Kelsey Mech  35:14

So I’m not, I mean, it takes, yeah, yeah, it I feel like we all we so often think like, oh, this is this is so hard, right? I can’t possibly do that. I’m never going to be able to think about fat differently. Yeah, it’s like, no, you actually can. No, totally, totally. Yeah. And it doesn’t take that long. If you’re willing to put in the effort and question the origins and the beliefs we hold around these things.

Hannah Husband  35:36

Yeah, well, and for me, connecting it to the other, like social justice systems of oppression from which anti fat bias stems helped a lot helped accelerate my learning curve, because it helps take it out of the like, knee realm where I’m like, well, but I don’t like how my belly squishes. So like, I’m allowed to hate my fat. It’s like, listen, sure, you can, but that’s a pretty narrow minded place to like, put your, you know, foot in the sand and like, make a stand. Like, the reality is, anti fat bias is like, just rampant in our system, and our culture, and is like, actively harming people. Like, I think too, like that was my entree into it really, was that I. Before I really became educated on this stuff, I was still sort of like, I call it body positive light. Like, I was, like, I was still in the mindset that losing weight was a good thing. But I was an a healthy thing. But I was like, but let’s not do unhealthy measures to get there. And that was like, most of my time as a personal trainer. And then in the last, like, I feel

Kelsey Mech  36:57

like a lot of people are gonna feel called out right now.

Hannah Husband  37:01

But that so that is the wellness version of diet culture. Yeah, it’s like, yeah, don’t go on a diet, do Noom or like, oh, sorry, I probably shouldn’t call out like, actually, but, you know, like, do I know, it’s a lifestyle? It’s not a diet, it’s like, well, actually, if you’re engaging behaviors with the intention of shrinking your body, that’s a diet. Yeah. by another name packaged in a different way, reinvented for this generation. It’s the same stuff. It’s the same narrative that like, smaller is healthier is better. Or, like, I really came up in the era of like, differentiating, like, weight loss and fat loss. Right. So like, I spent a lot of my early personal training career trying to convince people that they shouldn’t bother counting calories and like doing endless cardio, but that they should strength train, and like do circumference measurements to make sure they were again, shrinking their bodies like it’s the same. Same shit different day, you know?

Kelsey Mech  38:09

Yeah. Yeah.

Hannah Husband  38:12

I feel Yeah, I was gonna go back to that I got lost.

Kelsey Mech  38:15

Was it the body positivity piece? And like, Right, wow, that has shifted from maybe what it was originally intended to do.

Hannah Husband  38:25

It was something along those lines, right, because I got derailed when I started explaining the body positive light mindset. Yeah.

Kelsey Mech  38:33

Right, I resonate with so okay, I’m glad you brought it up.

Hannah Husband  38:35

So So for me, like my journey of weight awakening to this reality was, I was still in my body positive light phase. still believing that weight loss was ultimately a good thing, but shouldn’t be like your top priority at the expense of other health priorities. And I started working with this amazing client who I’m still friends with who was like in town for three months. And she self described herself as like a larger person. She was probably like 200 pounds, something like that. And she had struggled with her weight as she says for like her whole life. And in she wrote me like this beautiful novel in the intake form, which I like still remember, but she basically was like, you know, I did the dieting thing in my 20s and really messed myself up. And I’m at a place now where I’m really kind of accepting my size and the way that my body is because there’s a number of factors that mean I can’t actually control my weight. But I would like to move more I would like to feel stronger and I would like to be able to like she lived in Ireland, most of the urges like I want to be able to go like hiking with my friends and swimming in the sea and ride my bike and right now those things feel out of reach because when I do them for a little while, like my back really starts to hurt. So do you think you can helped me. And essentially, like, she was like, Can you give me a weight neutral approach to fitness? And I was like, Yes, I fucking can. And we ended up working together for like, two or so years, like, even after she left and went back to Ireland, we did like distance coaching. And that coaching relationship shifted away from me just like walking her through exercises during our sessions to like me, like listening and asking questions, and really being more of a coaching role, right. And so because of that, I got to be a witness to her stories about the way she was being treated in medical appointments. And like, you know, I was coaching her through an ACL rupture and surgical repair and subsequent physical therapy. I coached her through like, some gastrointestinal stuff that she had to go and get, like a lot of testing and lab work done for. And it just was appalling to me to hear the way that for a person who shows up in a larger body, the prescription that a medical professional will give you for various, like joint related issues is lose weight. Yeah. When in reality, like I knew, even at that point, even in my belief system that I was in, I was like, well, we can strengthen your muscles. Now, we can get you ready for this surgery by like, making sure that your, you know, core stabilizers and your hip and your ankle are functioning as best they can, even while your knee is compromised, we can build your stamina in the muscles surrounding the knee so that you’ll have a better chance of recovering faster after the surgery happens. We can strengthen your other leg, because that’s going to be carrying you around while you’re in the recovery period, like my trainer brain was like, there’s lots we can do that has nothing to do with losing weight on the scale or shrinking your body. Yeah. And so that was really like a big wake up call to me in terms of this idea that like, we maybe need to question the relationship between weight and health at like a deeper societal level.

Kelsey Mech  42:29

Yeah, I mean, it’s wild to me that that is still so prevalent, especially within the medical system, have those sort of immediate reactions from obviously not all doctors, but many people in those professions? To just always, always have the answer be lose weight? And I’m like, is that just stigma? Is that a lack of training? Like, I don’t even understand how that can still be? The answer all the time. So much of the time.

Hannah Husband  42:59

Yeah. Especially when, as we discussed previously, we don’t have ethical studies that show any method of weight loss to be successful in the long term. So doctors are literally saying to their patients become a unicorn. Well, how do I do that? I don’t know, diet and exercise. Like, what? Yeah. Like, that’s not a prescription. That’s not an ethical evidence based medical intervention.

Kelsey Mech  43:34

And we can’t all look the same, like, I mean, what you mentioned earlier about your body and this sort of identification of Viking warrior, right. Like you mentioned, you’re sort of embracing your genetic profile. And that’s been something I’ve been exploring too, as someone with Slavic and particular Polish heritage, like I, my body is going to look a certain way and naturally sort of, look, it’s not going to be this stick straight model. Like there’s no world in which it ever could be even if I like did every wild thing. Because genetically, like I’m built to be like a little rounder, in certain areas, right. And so that’s actually been a really helpful framing for me is like, because I do a lot of ancestral work that I’m like, oh, a part of that ancestral work is also like appreciating how my ancestors are in my body. Hmm, yeah, not that that’s gonna fit for everyone. But I think that’s, you know, there’s a unique lens that’s been supportive for me.

Hannah Husband  44:27

Yeah, there’s, um, yeah, again, like kind of going back to like, Okay, if we just go back a couple of 100 years, I don’t know if we go back to like, thinking of humans as like tribe dwelling close to the land living creatures. There’s great value in diversity, right? We know this from the study of biology. Ecosystems are the most stable when there’s a lot of diversity and like a tribe of humans is going to be the most stable and sort of resilient as a species group, when you’ve got a lot of variety, right, you need the super strong people who can like drag the buffalo back to the fire you need the like nimble people who can climb up the trees and like look far ahead, you need the people who are like, lanky and can like run. And then of course, there’s like bio region specific adaptations that make more sense for different areas, right. But this idea that like there’s one holy grail of human form, and we should all aspire to look like that is just ridiculous. And scientifically unsound. And even if you look back through like the last 200 years, you can see that that ideal ideology, what’s the word I’m looking for? idealized body type has changed dramatically. Oh, man. Yeah. Like I think it’s funny to look back at like, even like 60s films, right? Like, who’s the dude who played James Bond? Sean Connery. Sean Connery, if you watch those early Bond films, like by today’s standards, he’s a skinny guy. He’s not like super jacked, he’s got a hairy chest and like women were into it, right? Like he was like the sex symbol of his time. Now, you got to be like Chris Hemsworth and have like, every muscle perfectly outlined and like zero body fat and like, you like that is a body type that like some people are more genetically predisposed to, but everyone has to train to actually like, present that way. Slash. This is a fun fact. In the superhero movies, where they have like the shirt off scenes for the menfolk, right, and they’re like super jacked and super cut and all that stuff. They will film all of the shirtless scenes in one week. Oh, because it is physiologically miserable slash maybe impossible to maintain that level of leanness for more than about a week.

Kelsey Mech  47:19

Oh, my God, you just blew my mind. Yeah,

Hannah Husband  47:21

because like, so again, coming up through the fitness world. Like, there’s athletic performance protocols. And then there’s like, body builder, like presentation protocols. And like, the shit, you have to be super dehydrated, you have to be eating like negative to carbs. Like, essentially, the things you have to do to make your body look that cut are not actually conducive to good athletic performance. Yeah, like you, you’re like, cold and tired all the time, basically. And if you try to do it for too long, like you just can’t, like your body just will claw back some stores of fat because again, our body like our bodies are the primary directive of our body as an ecosystem is to survive. And so if we deprive it of the things that it deems necessary for survival, for a certain amount of time, it’s going to find a way to like, replenish that as soon as possible. Or shut down. Yeah, yeah.

Kelsey Mech  48:28

Oh, it’s so it’s so wild, that we’re not like more of these things aren’t. Like, like, the disclaimers don’t exist. Like, why does it not have like a disclaimer? Yeah, the bottom of the screen, you know, it’s sometimes in

Hannah Husband  48:41

interviews, the stars will like open up about it and be like, Yeah, cool. Yeah. So that was really miserable. And I hated my life during that week. But I got the abs, right, like, but we watched the movie, and we see these shirtless scenes spread out over like, lots of time, and we just think, oh, that dude just looks like that all the time. It’s like, no, no, no, no, no.

Kelsey Mech  49:01

Yeah, that’s such an important. Like, check. Yeah, just be aware of like, where? Yeah, where? Where are we not? I mean, so many places, but like, he’s questioning what is true in presentations of this body’s in such such an important filter to bring to like every social media, media movies like everything. Yeah. So I’m curious as we like, move toward wrapping this conversation up. I really want to return to the ladder that you talked about at the beginning. And how, like, how do how do people start to step off the ladder? If you’re like, kind of like, new to this or wanting to shift your relationship with your body or with fitness? If someone’s listening to this and is like, yes, yes, yes to everything but still really stuck in either body positive light or even sort of, you know, really deeper and deeper, more deeply entrenched in shame or body stigma. How do you work with people? Maybe it’s another way to ask this to like, just start exploring, you know, taking one foot off the ladder, or what’s the first step?

Hannah Husband  50:13

Yeah. Yeah, I think there’s many different ways in depending on what where you are and what kind of learner you are, and, and where your particular wounding lies. But the thing that I think is universal is that like, all of us are harmed by these unrealistic beauty standards. Like even, like I have a friend who’s naturally a size zero, like just always has been very thin. She literally has the body that I like, worshipped as a teenager. And she has been so awestruck, ostracized by other women because of it. She’s had people assume that she has an eating disorder and like harangue her about eating enough. And so she got into a habit of like stuffing her face and where she was eating in social settings. Yeah. So I think it’s just like, I think part of the gifts that I’ve received in this lifetime of being a coach and a personal trainer for the last 12 years is I’ve gotten to listen to a lot of people’s stories. And I started to realize like, it doesn’t matter what you look like, actually, like, this game is out to get all of us and make all of us feel like we are not enough. And that we need to fix something about ourselves, right. And so I think, you know, there’s a few podcasts I could highly recommend, I really love, Virgie Tovar, his podcast. It’s called Rebel eaters club. And one of the things she shares in one of those episodes that I just was like, Oh, this was like, right now, like, if you’re part of diet, culture, even diet, culture, light or body positivity, you know, low key, the way that intimacy is created amongst femmes, or like people who’ve been socialized female, specifically, we tend to bond and create social intimacy by talking about the diets we’re on or what we hate about our bodies, or, you know, what we’re doing that’s working, or that kind of stuff, right? Like, who hasn’t been in that kind of conversation where someone’s like, Oh, I’m doing, you know, paleo and I just feel so good. And the set down, somebody goes, ooh, I should be doing that. And like we bond over our bodies not being good enough, right? And what we’re doing try to fix them. And so to step off the ladder, or to like as Virgie says breakup with diet culture, it can feel like we’re leaving society, and we’re gonna be like an outcast and have no friends. Mm hmm. And that is a scary prospect, right? Because belonging is like the deepest core human need. So you know, I think if you’re, if you’re curious, and you’re like, there’s a part of you that’s longing to move in this direction. Finding folks who are further along than you that you can listen to that you enjoy learning from his suit has been super helpful for me. So like Regan Chasteen, who I mentioned is a great follow on Instagram or Facebook. Virgie Tovar has a podcast and like an amazing newsletter called body positive one on one that you can sign up for. Christie Harris, Harrison. C hry. S? No. We’ll put it in the notes. Anyway, she’s awesome. She wrote a book called anti diet and also has a really good podcast called Food Psych. Oh,

Kelsey Mech  53:55

I’ve heard her is Yeah,

Hannah Husband  53:56

yeah, very helpful, especially if your brain is needing more of the like scientific research based stuff to help you untangle that relationship between size and weight and health. And then also, like, one thing that helped me in the beginning when I was like, How do I like start feeling okay about how my body actually looks instead of how I think it should be looking. I just started following people on Instagram, who looked a little bit more like me, or slightly larger or curvier than me but who were like, stylish and feel in themselves because I was like, I need a poster child. For someone who’s like, athletic, not thin, but who like is dressing themselves well and like putting themselves out there in the world without shame and without apology. And like, if you search for like, you know, curvy redheads, or like, athletic fashion or like, you know, trying to think what the other good search terms are, but like you find folks on Instagram who are putting themselves out there in a really confident way and like putting looks together and really like honoring their bodies in the way that they are and not and who have like, unsubscribed from traditional beauty standards actually, hashtag f your beauty standards is a good one to follow. If you’re like, where do I begin? But just regularly seeing other bodies in my feed on a daily basis?

Kelsey Mech  55:32

Really helps. Yeah, yeah, that’s one of the first things I

Hannah Husband  55:36

like to call Yeah, curate your feed. Like, take out anyone who makes you feel less than just straight up, stop following the people who are like, I’m lounging on the beach in a bikini with my like, you know, perfect abs? Like, if that makes you feel bad about yourself. Don’t follow that person. Yeah. If you feel fine about it, like follow them, but like, starting to investigate, like, when do I see something and feel less than? Versus when do I see something and feel represented?

Kelsey Mech  56:13

So good, thank you for all those resources. And I think I mean, you do an incredible job of that too, on your on your Instagram. Not that you’re gonna like that fit for everyone listening. But I I’m just like, always in awe of the way that you demonstrate exactly what you’re talking about. Seeking. Yeah, and I mean, your hair proof is amazing. Everyone go watch Hannah’s how to hair proof video. But on that note, in all seriousness, how can people find you and what you’re up to in the world?

Hannah Husband  56:45

Sure. So um, you can find me on Instagram at Hannah husband. My website is also Hannah husband.com very creative with the naming of things. I have I’m sort of relaunching my newsletter, but you can sign up for that via my website. I will. I will be putting together a podcast in the future. But there’s no like landing page for that or anything. So yeah, just join my newsletter, if you want to know what I’m up to. And feel free to find me on Instagram. I love having conversations over there. And yeah, thanks for having the iron Kelsey. This was really fun.

Kelsey Mech  57:26

Yeah, thanks so much for joining. And I want to ask one final question to close us out. If there’s like one message, or takeaway or next step, or like whatever you sort of feel drawn to, that you want people to leave with? What would it be? Hmm. Or it can just be like a message from your heart to the hearts of listeners everywhere.

Hannah Husband  57:57

I think right now, the thing that feels most present is like, start listening in to when if ever, you move your body in a way that feels good. And if that is happening, see if you can turn it up just a little bit, add a little more time, add a few more instances throughout your week. And if it’s not happening, that’s okay. Because we’ve all been like ripped away from that experience, mostly and not conditioned on how to find it. So no shame there. But like, start inquiring what might feel good. Is there anything? Is there any way of moving or being in my body that I’ve decided I’m not allowed to do? Because it’s not fill in the blank, effective, efficient enough? Whatever, right? Like, you know, for myself, I realized a while ago that I had written off, like, you know, dance classes, because at a certain point, I decided they weren’t effective enough at shrinking my body. But like, I really enjoy dancing, and I love learning physical movement. So like, I’m trying to reclaim that for myself. So what pleasurable movement could you reclaim? In 2022?

Kelsey Mech  59:22

Hmm, that is such a good question. I need to ask myself that as well. Yes. Beautiful. Thank you so much for joining us, Hannah.

Hannah Husband  59:34

Oh, you’re most welcome. It was a pleasure.

Kelsey Mech  59:38

As always, I am so grateful that you decided to join us for this last hour here together listening to The Unraveled Life Podcast, and who really, really need your help. Please, if you think it’s important for your friends and family and acquaintances, and whoever else you hang out with, to have some of these conversations and unravel some of these crazy things. We’re all talking about together, that we’re learning and internalizing and not questioning nearly enough, then I would love for you to share this, honestly, it would mean so much to me. And I really, I’m really very interested in more of us having these kinds of conversations, because I’m so sick of people being stuck in these little bullshit, internalized beliefs from capitalism and ableism and patriarchy. And this is my little soapbox, I guess. So if you want to invite people to come hang out around my soapbox, I love that because I think together we can change the conversation and together, maybe just maybe we can change the world. But I can’t do that if we’re not talking about it. So if you want more people to talk about it, maybe send them this and then you can start talking to them about it, because you’ll have something to talk about with them. Yeah, share the podcast. Give it five stars. Share it, share it, share it, share it. Thank you. I love you. Okay, Bye.